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UCB Word For You

Be gentle (3)

17 January 2022
‘A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.’

When someone disagrees with us, we should try to be tender without surrendering. We’ll never be able to please everyone. We’ll always meet people who like to argue and disagree. Some people might contradict everything we say. How should we respond to them? One of the tests of spiritual maturity is how we handle those who disagree with us. Some people have a need to demolish anyone who disagrees with them. If we challenge them or offer a comparison, complaint, or criticism, they respond with a personal attack on us. Then what do we do? There are three alternatives: 1) We can retreat in fear. Many people choose this route because they haven’t developed the ability to be confident in responding with gentleness. If we’re ‘peace at any price’ types, there'll be hidden costs somewhere along the line in our most important relationships. 2) We can react in anger. Anger is often a sign that we feel insecure and threatened by someone’s disapproval. It’s a warning light that tells us we’re about to lose something, and it's often our self-esteem. When we become angry, we can also become sarcastic and attack the other person’s self-worth. 3) We can respond in gentleness. ‘A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.’ This is the kind of response that requires a fine balance between maintaining our right to an opinion, while equally respecting another person’s right to their opinion. It requires being tender without surrendering our convictions. Sometimes we must stand by our convictions. Sometimes it’ll call for us to ask questions and gain a better understanding of why the other person has that opinion, which might take a bit of effort on our part. But it’s always worthwhile if it helps us respond to them with gentleness.

What Now?

If someone disagrees with you today and you feel yourself becoming angry or defensive, try instead to ask the other person questions about their opinion. Aim to understand rather than attack.

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